Sean Quinn Named Assistant Swimming Coach at UNC

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Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Sean Quinn has been promoted to the position of full-time assistant swimming coach at the University of North Carolina as announced by Tar Heel head coach Rich DeSelm Monday. Quinn has been a part of the UNC swimming program since 1999 as a student-athlete, volunteer coach, part-time assistant coach and the head coach of the North Carolina Aquatic Club, a U.S. Swimming club program based in Chapel Hill that trains at UNC’s Koury Natatorium.

Quinn has excelled as the NCAC head coach and was named in September 2015 as the North Carolina Swimming Coach of the Year, an award named in honor of Franke Belle.

A former Tar Heel school record holder in the 200-yard breaststroke and 100-meter breaststroke and current record holder in the 200-meter breaststroke, Quinn, recently completed his seventh year as a part-time assistant coach for the Carolina swimming program following six years in which he served as one of the program’s volunteer coaches. He served as a staff coach for the NCAC from 2003 to 2010 when he was named the club’s head coach.

“We are extremely excited to name Sean Quinn to our staff,” DeSelm says. “As the head coach of our club team, North Carolina Aquatic Club, for the past six years, Sean has demonstrated outstanding leadership and coaching abilities. His transition should be an easy one because, for 13 years, Sean has also been coaching our college swimmers on a part-time basis.

“The team knows and respects him and will benefit from his impact, now on a full-time basis. Sean is an outstanding coach, knows and loves UNC, is a fantastic representative of our school and program and will bring a great deal of knowledge and passion to the team, in practice and recruiting. He is a seasoned administrator and will be a great asset in that aspect of the job. We look forward to Sean moving into this new role with us.”

Over the years, Quinn has worked to build NCAC into one of the top age group programs in the country, boasting multiple Nationals, Junior Nationals and Olympic Trials qualifiers. In September 2014, he achieved one of the highest coaching honors when U.S. Swimming named him a National Team coach. In 2015, he was named a U.S. National Team coach for the second year in a row. Prior to becoming the overall head coach, Quinn was the head age group coach for the North Carolina Aquatic Club. He was selected as a North Carolina Zone Team coach in 2009. Quinn helped coach the North Carolina team to a third-place finish in that competition in Orlando, Fla.

A native of Lancaster, S.C., and 1999 alumnus of Lancaster High School, Quinn was a three-time All-America selection as a Tar Heel, earning those honors in 2000, 2002 and 2003. His best NCAA finish was an eighth place in the 200-yard breaststroke as a freshman in 2000. He also finished 10th in the 200 breaststroke at the NCAA Championships in 2002.

Quinn, a tri-captain of the 2002-03 Tar Heel team, won a silver medal in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He finished fifth in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials. He was offered a slot on the United States Team at the 2002 Short Course World Championships in Moscow. During his freshman year at UNC, he competed in the Short Course World Championships in Athens, Greece. Before enrolling at Carolina, he swam in the 1999 U.S. Junior World Championships in Barcelona on a U.S. team coached by former Tar Heel head mentor Frank Comfort.

Quinn won ACC individual championships in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2000 and 2003. Until 2014, he held the Tar Heel school record in the 200-yard breaststroke at 1:56.39. He still holds the Tar Heel record in the 200-meter breaststroke at 2:14.92 set at the 2002 U.S. National Championships. A four-time All-ACC selection, Quinn swam for the Mecklenburg Aquatic Club while in high school and was coached there by Pat Hogan. Quinn was named Carolina’s most outstanding swimmer in 2000 and 2002 and the team’s most valuable swimmer in 2003. His sister Kathleen swam for four years at UNC and was a tri-captain of the 2004-05 women’s team.

Born May 20, 1981, Quinn is married to Beth Colacurcio Quinn, herself a former UNC swimmer. They have a daughter, Alice, 3 1/2 years old. Son Henry will celebrate his first birthday on December 8, 2016.

UNC Chapel Hill contributed this report. 


  1. avatar

    Disappointing for UNC that they didn’t take an opportunity to look for a coach to help improve the UNC swimming program.

    • avatar
      UNC Swim Fan

      Yes, and strange his bio doesn’t have if he graduated from UNC. I wonder when he graduated and what degree he earned. And if it was even from UNC. Most coaching bios have that information. Maybe UNC could update his bio to reflect the missing information.

      • avatar
        UNC Swim Fan

        Well it looks like UNC updated his bio to state he has a B.A. in Communication Studies. It is strange though that the side bar states Psychology. I wonder which one it is. Maybe UNC can clear up the confusion.